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What to Eat Before a Workout: 9 Super Foods For Athletic Performance

Not sure what to eat before a workout? During? After? Our guide introduces you to 9 nutrient-packed, feel-good foods for your pre- mid- and post-workout snacks.

Swimming is one of the most physically demanding, calorie-consuming sports around. And because it requires so much effort from your body, the importance of nourishing yourself with foods that can be turned into energy is paramount. Here are some super foods that can help you take total control of your workout nutrition.

Partially-peeled banana.
High in potassium, bananas are ideal pre-workout foods for swimmers, especially those who often get muscle cramps.

What to Eat Before A Workout

Millet or Quinoa

Complex grains such as millet or quinoa are great for swimmers because they provide a perfect mix of complex carbs and protein. They will fill you up, give you energy, and even help rebuild muscles after a grueling workout.


Bananas are a great pre-workout snack for myriad reasons. If you’re not too hungry, but feel you need a little boost of energy before getting in the pool, reach for the nearest Chiquita. Bananas are high in potassium, which will help you stay hydrated and keep electrolyte levels high.


Here’s a good excuse for you to chow down on some ‘chips and dip’. Hummus, which is made from chickpeas, is excellent pre-workout fare because it’s high in fiber, which will keep you full, and it’s high protein content will help you recover. Have your hummus with a few baked pita chips, or try dipping some fresh carrot sticks.

What to Eat During a Workout

While you might not need a snack during a shorter workout, endurance swimmers in the water for more than an hour are often in great need of a mid-workout pick-me-up. Mid-workout foods are all about high carbs, low fiber, and low fat. The goal is to get energy into your system as quickly as possible without bogging down your digestive system with fibrous or protein-rich foods.

Dried Fruit

For a mid-workout boost, grab a handful of dried fruit, such as raisins, pineapple, apricots, or cranberries. Dried fruit packs a powerful, quick energy punch which can help keep glycogen stores high. Fruit is also ideal because it digests in about 1 hour, rather than the typical 3-5 hour digestion of a meal.


Raw almonds and walnuts are a great way to add some energy during your next endurance workout. Pick a no-salt or low-salt variety to avoid excess water retention.

Oatmeal Cookie

Oatmeal Cookie

An oatmeal cookie is higher in fiber than other cookie varieties, and helps provide you with a boost of glycogen during a long workout. They’re easy to take with you anywhere and easy to digest, making them perfect for a quick workout break.

What to Eat After a Workout

Because swimming burns so many calories, it’s important to eat healthy, nutrient-rich foods after your workout as well. Eating right will help you recover faster and will make your next workout that much easier.

Hardboiled Egg

Eggs are a great post-workout snack for any athlete on the run. If your morning swim takes you right into your workday, think about packing some hardboiled eggs in your swim gear bag for an easy way to get some essential post-workout protein.

Tuna Fish Sandwich

A low-fat tuna fish sandwich on a whole wheat roll can supply you with the perfect mix of complex carbs and protein to help you recover from a challenging workout in the pool. If tuna isn’t your thing, try a salmon salad or chicken salad sandwich. Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids and chicken is high in niacin, both of which help muscles recover from a workout.

Chocolate Milk

Swimming gives you a great excuse to guzzle down this kid-friendly drink. Low-fat chocolate milk gives swimmers a great boost of protein and glycogen that helps replenish fatigued muscles.

Give your body the wholesome nutrients it’s craving and you’re sure to see your workout sore to new levels!

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